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Internationale Konferenz
15.05.2024 – 17.05.2024

Images of the Ideal. Evald Ilyenkov at 100

Ort: Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Eberhard-Lämmert-Saal, Eingang Meierottostr. 8, 10719 Berlin
Organisiert von Zaal Andronikashvili, Matthias Schwartz (beide ZfL), Isabel Jacobs (University of London), Martin Küpper (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)

Evald Ilyenkov (1924–1979) was one of the most important philosophers of the Soviet era. His philosophical interests included, among others, dialectics and logic, political economy, psychology, cosmology, cybernetics, aesthetics, pedagogy, subjectivity, and personhood. He is particularly known as the philosophical representative of cultural-historical activity theory in Soviet psychology. As a teacher, Ilyenkov aimed to teach his students how (and not what) to think, arguing for a holistic approach that resisted automatization and unquestioned tenets. Long after the demise of the Soviet Union, his radical approach keeps on shaping educational and psychological orientations worldwide.

The international conference will critically reassess and reflect on Ilyenkov’s legacy. We believe that Ilyenkov’s ideas are prescient to contemporary debates on culture, society, education, and science; for example the dangers posed by quantification, artificial intelligence, and unrestrained capital accumulation. At the conference, we want to focus on a central concern in his work: the concept of the ideal. What are ideals? What is the relation of the ideal to images and imagination? What are the radical and utopian potentialities of the ideal today? And what place does the ideal hold in materialist dialectics?


Abb. oben: Emanuel Almborg, Talking Hands, 2016.


Wednesday, 15 May 2024

6.30 pm
Evening lecture

7.30 pm


Thursday, 16 May 2024

10.00 am
Introductory words

10.15 am
Economies of the Ideal

Chair: Martin Küpper (Kiel University/Babeș-Bolyai University)

  • Franz Heilgendorff (Dresden University of Technology): Ilyenkov’s Dialectics of the Ideal and Marx’s Kapital
  • Siarhei Biareishyk (University of Pennsylvania), Language: Money, Ideal: Ilyenkov’s Spinozist Reading of Marx
  • Keti Chukhrov (Linköping University/Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design): How to Make Political Economics a Philosophy? Ilyenkov’s Method

12.15 pm
Cybernetics and Automatization

Chair: Sascha Freyberg (MPIWG Berlin)

  • Trevor Wilson (Virginia Tech): The Soviet Luddite
  • Siyaves Azeri (Babeș-Bolyai University): Agency, Machine-thinking, and Fetishism

3.00 pm
Socialism and Social Reality

Chair: Martin Küpper (Kiel University/Babeș-Bolyai University)

  • Vesa Oittinen (Helsinki): Ilyenkov’s Social Ontology as a Theory of ”Second Nature”
  • Monika Woźniak (Czech Academy of Sciences/Babeș-Bolyai University): Just a First Step towards Communism: Ilyenkov’s Views on State Socialism

8.00 pm
venue: diffrakt | zentrum für theoretische peripherie

  • Talking Hands (2016)
    Screening and discussion with director Emanuel Almborg (London), moderated by Olexii Kuchanskyi and Elena Vogman (Bauhaus-University Weimar)


Friday, 17 May 2024

11.00 am
Aesthetics of the Ideal

Chair: Isabel Jacobs (Queen Mary University of London)

  • Angela Harutyunyan (Universität der Künste Berlin): Art and the Communist Ideal: The Untimely Debate between Evald Ilyenkov and Mikhail Lifshitz
  • Sascha Freyberg (MPIWG Berlin): Cosmos, Praxis, Personhood: Outlines of Ilyenkov’s Philosophy of Culture

12.30 pm
Cognition and Ideality
Chair: Trevor Wilson (Virginia Tech)

  • Isabel Jacobs (Queen Mary University of London): On the Soul: Ilyenkov and Left Aristotelianism
  • Jamie Philipps (Toronto): Ideality and Fantasy, between Philosophy and Psychopathology: Vygotsky, Ilyenkov, and Others

3.30 pm

  • Exploring Ilyenkov’s Legacy: The Courage of Thought
    Roundtable with David Bakhurst (Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada), Corinna Lotz (International Friends of Ilyenkov, London) and Kyrill Potapov (University College London)

5.00 pm
Dialectical Materialisms
Chair: Sascha Freyberg (MPIWG Berlin)

  • Alexei Penzin (University of Wolverhampton): Speculative Ontologies of “Actually Existing Socialism”: Early Ilyenkov and Late Lifshitz
  • Giorgi Kobakhidze (University of Toulouse): The Ideal as an Onto-Epistemological Concept
  • Martin Küpper (Kiel University/Babeș-Bolyai University): Dialectics of the Material